A fine watered steel Kilij with original sheath mounts stamped with a Tughra.
The hilt of this Ottoman Kilij is of traditional form with the ‘pistol’ grip and silver-plated cross guard. Two polished horns form the large hilt, still showing signs of age but a nice colour; this provides a vibrant and distinct look to the Kilij as the hilt grabs your attention. The cross guard (or quillon block) is etched along the boarder in a geometrical pattern that extends onto the silver mounts of the sheath. At each end of the cross guard are flower buds. The top of the hilt features a bolster, which holds a red, green and gold fabric tassel.
As the cartouches feature calligraphy in a traditional format of writing, it is difficult to discern what is written as language and writing has developed over many years. The translation seems to show some praises of Allah – possibly the following:
The master of the Kingdom [Allah]
Whatever the will of God, [so be it]
I put [all] my trust in God [Allah]
At Christies, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, London, 9th October 2014, lot 109 there is a Kilij with an identical inscription on the blade and they claim it to be the following ‘gold damascened muhaqqaq in two rectangular cartouches with the shahada, a roundel on each side with further Qur’anic inscription’.
On our example, these three cartouches cover almost the first quarter of the blade and are houses in a gold damascened boarder, which also runs along the edges of the blade. From the tip to the top, the blade is of fine Damascus steel, with an uninterrupted watered patterning throughout. The unremitting flow of the steel seamlessly represents flowing water, crystal clear, showing that it is of a fine nature and high standard. The false-edge (Yelman) is also adorned with a small amount fine gold damascened work in the form of a flower/tendril – an indication the artisan was paying attention to the small details.
The sheath is fit with two large silver mounts with lockets. The middle section of the sheath is wrapped in black leather with thick gilded stitching along the centre. At the bottom of the top mount, there is a Tughra, which is a calligraphic monogram/seal/signature of a Sultan (ruler), possibly from the late 18th century or early 19th century.
A comparable example with similar gold damascened work and design was sold at Bonhams: Antique Arms and Armour – 18th April 2012, London, Lot 40.
This is a glorious and outstanding Ottoman Kilij with a silver mounted scabbard and Tughra. A real collectors item.